An earlier version of this article was presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014.
It’s thesis is that successful advocacy requires:
- Strong media skills able to define the problem, craft a compelling narrative and define appropriate solutions
- A mechanism to move the narrative forwards by solving the defined problem using those previously identified solutions.
- A funding network willing to pay for the costs associated with the campaign.
The question of whether or not those three conditions apply in our current aerospace and space environment is open for debate.
But these constant changes and upheavals are nothing new.
As outlined in the July 21st, 2009 post “Even Werner Von Braun was Wrong Once in a While,” those who led mankind to the Moon forty-five years ago were stubborn individualists and opportunists who embraced risk, endured setbacks, knew failure and were not universally loved or even terribly well respected in life.(iii)
In essence, they disagreed often and made many mistakes, which usually led to more disagreements. This is surprising, especially when you remember that the legacy of the early space age is one of accomplishments, not infighting.
But a legacy of accomplishment might not be an accurate representation of the current generation of space leaders. An example would be the panelists at the “2006 International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Roundtable on Major Space Markets in the Next 20 years and the Corporate Approach for Success.”(iv)
The discussion, held during the 57th International Astronautical Congress in Valencia, Spain from October 2nd – 6th, 2006, was moderated by Virendra Jha (then the VP science, technology and programs for the CSA).
Panelists included Mag Iskander (the executive VP and general manager of space missions for BC based MacDonald Dettwiler), Francois Auque (the CEO of Astrium), Pascale Sourisse (the president and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space), Dr James Chilton (the VP of Boeing), Nicolay Sevestiyanov, (the president & general designer at ENERGIA) and Professor Sir Martin Sweeting (the CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology).(v)
However, given the pedigree of the panelists, it’s amusing to note how each acts amazed at the things that have happened over the last twenty years, then marvels at how most of the changes were unexpected but then states unequivocally that the market has likely stabilized and will now remain essentially the same with one or two predictable exceptions which are logical progressions of existing trends.(vi)
Of course, those panelists haven’t turned out to be anywhere near correct, despite their vast knowledge and expertise.
But while ten years perhaps provides us with the benefit of hindsight unavailable to the 2006 panel, the changes expected over the next ten years are likely to dwarf those of the previous ten.
So how can space policy experts most effectively advocate their positions and projects in this brave new world of continuous change, ongoing government reviews and commercial constraints?
[i] “Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science,” by Henry Stewart. The Commercial Space blog June 13th, 2016 at http://acuriousguy.blogspot.ca/2016/06/government-announces-comprehensive.html. Accessed August 21st, 2016.
[ii] “Federal ministers are hell-bent on consulting you: Paul Wells,” by Paul Wells. The Toronto Star August 3rd, 2016 at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/08/03/federal-ministers-are-hell-bent-on-consulting-you-paul-wells.html. Accessed August 21st, 2016.
[iii] “Even Werner Von Braun was wrong Once in a While,” by Chuck Black. The Commercial Space blog July 21, 2009 at http://acuriousguy.blogspot.ca/2009/07/even-werner-von-braun-was-wrong-once-in.html. Accessed August 21th, 2016.
[v] “2006 IAC: Major space markets in the next 20 years” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1BTO2Klp0&feature=relmfu. Accessed August 21th, 2016